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Post Athletic board tackles contracts, facilities, student tickets

Thursday May 24, 2012

Georgia’s athletic board met today, and as usual personnel and facilites issues dominated the agenda.

The glacial pace of contract extensions for Mark Richt and Todd Grantham continues. Athletic director Greg McGarity outlined the details of Richt’s new contract, but the contract remains incomplete and was not voted on by the board. Richt’s base salary would remain more or less steady, but his performance bonuses would be doubled. The contract will also allow Richt additional opportunities for money from “off-field sources,” including commercials. Meanwhile, Grantham’s deal is agreed to in principle but still remains “in the lawyers’ hands” and incomplete.

The board also approved several minor facilities upgrades. Scoreboards at the baseball, softball, and soccer fields will be improved. Gate 10 at Sanford Stadium (the field-level “Dawg Walk” entrance) will also receive attention. Foley Field will get $1.35 million in minor work that will touch everything from the press box, entrance, Kudzu Hill, and the trees behind left field.

The topic of student tickets came up. We’ve encouraged McGarity and the board to look at the issue, and I’m glad it was discussed. As President Adams noted, “the students have not held up their end of the bargain” in efforts to increase student turnout. This will likely remain a problem as the 2012 schedule lends itself to unattractive opponents and early kickoffs. Still, if the problem with student attendence is less about interest and more about allocation, it’s right for the board to consider action. It seemed odd though that one of the proposals would give freshmen priority in obtaining tickets. Adams was concerned about rewarding 5th-year seniors through a seniority system, but should freshmen receive priority in anything?

Post Adams to step down, now what?

Thursday May 3, 2012

Adams - UgaUniversity of Georgia president Michael Adams will step down effective June 30, 2013. Dr. Adams will have been at Georgia’s helm for 16 years when he leaves office and takes on a new role with the University.

Adams, for better or worse, has been very involved in Georgia’s athletics during his 16 years. That involvement has included everything from policy and personnel decisions to putting his tail in a seat and being as much of a fan as any of us. As enrollment and stadium capactity has grown, Adams has also had to be active in areas where the interests of the University collide with the fan experience. Adams has been especially visible in combating Georgia’s party school reputation both on campus and on game day. Those clashes have made Adams a very polarizing figure, and that’s even before we look at the purely academic side of things (which we won’t).

I know there are those doing cartwheels over the announcement this morning, but this is very much a wait-and-see moment. The process to select a replacement will be, as always, as much a political one as anything. The focus will be on the governor and the Board of Regents, and if you trust those parties to approach this decision without considering their own interests, you also likely think that a college football playoff is all about the fans. A polarizing president is one thing, but behind-the-scenes power plays by relatively anonymous and unaccountable regents isn’t a better condition.

I’m not sure a lot of people know what they want the next president to be – other than “not Adams.” At this level of academic leadership, there’s a rather narrow spectrum of possibilities. Certain personalities stand out – think Gee or Machen – but it’s rarely for the better. “Ego” comes with the job. Shrinking violets don’t rise through the ranks to become department chairs and deans and seek out the leadership of a major research university. The next president will have to be a political animal. With budgets constantly under scrutiny and many constituencies inside and outside of campus, he or she has to be ambitious, savvy, and – at times – ruthless.

Maybe folks just want someone who will leave the football program alone, but we know how unrealistic that is considering how many points of contact there are between the highly-visible program and the University. The president will speak for Georgia’s interests in the SEC and the NCAA. The policies he or she supports and implements will affect the student-athlete experience and the future of coaches like Mark Richt. Adams was outspoken and controversial at times, but his departure leaves a very large vacuum. It’s not a given that this vacuum will be filled by some ideal benevolent football-friendly president who instructs the campus police to chauffeur football players home from downtown and who lets you park an RV on the North Campus quad on Wednesday afternoon.

Post How we got here – the origins of Georgia’s tough drug policy

Wednesday April 4, 2012

If you didn’t already know that Georgia had one of the SEC’s tougher drug and alcohol policies, the past week or so should have taken care of that. To a lot of people, Georgia’s position on testing probably seems to be, as Michael Elkon put it, “unilateral disarmament.” He’s left scratching his head and wondering why Georgia (or any program) would willfully do this to themselves.

The answer goes back to early 2006, and it has to do with what was going on around the UGA campus. University President Michael Adams, as early as his 2005 State of the Univeristy address, showed concern over the school’s reputation as a party school and its impact on “academic rigor.” Two high-profile events within the next year helped to turn that concern into momentum for campus-wide action: 1) the drug and alcohol-related death of student Lewis Fish and 2) the trashing of campus following the 2005 Auburn game.

By that point, the issue had moved from airy speeches to the editorial pages. The reaction was swift. New policies were put in place across campus that affected everyone from the underage freshman to the football tailgater. The actions and policies ranged from the prudent to the puzzling to the reactionary. See if any of these ring a bell:

It’s no coincidence that policies meant to take aim at student drinking and drug use were accompanied by changes to the football game day experience. There is perhaps no more visible symbol of Georgia’s “party school” reputation than a football weekend – especially the football weekend in Jacksonville. The tug-of-war between the football fan and the University continues today with tweaks taking place on almost an annual basis.

In such a climate, it’s easy to see how the athletic department’s internal policies came under review. With the University cracking down on the general student population and teaming up with the Athletic Assosciation to clean up tailgating, Georgia’s guidelines for acceptable student-athlete behavior had to face scrutiny.

So in July of 2006, we ended up with this. It’s the current athletic department policy for Georgia student-athletes. It’s not a football-only policy, and, while Damon Evans and other athletics administrators might have had input, it is very much in the spirit of the more general campus-wide policies put into place around the same time.

Elkon asks “whether the current stance taken by the Georgia athletic department is the result of media attention paid to off-field issues.” The answer is, indirectly, “yes.” It’s no defense of the policy, but its existence and content makes more sense when you understand that it was much more the fruit of a top-down initiative from the University than it was any kind of organic pet project of Mark Richt or his direct higher-ups. In fact, some of the first student-athletes facing serious discipline for drug or alcohol-related incidents ran afoul not of any football team policy but mandatory University policies (see: Akeem Hebron).

With the origins of the policy understood, the next question is what can or should be done about Georgia’s very real disadvantage relative to its competition.

Should anything be done? Georgia has certainly left itself little wiggle room with its policy, but as Elkon concedes there are several areas where schools chart a course that might be considered detrimental in the context of building a competitive football program – oversigning and academics are two good examples.

It’s difficult to guess how a walk-back of the policy would be taken. Critics would certainly pounce on the timing – do you have standards only until the point that they begin to adversely affect the football program? We’re also talking about sanctioning drug use. That might not seem like such a big deal to many people, and it’s a reality of life on campus, but it’s possibly unacceptable to others who face zero-tolerance policies in their own daily lives.

It’s also not a sure thing that the University would sign off on just any revision. The motivations for a crackdown present in 2006 are for the most part still a fact of life in Athens, and the administration would certainly be aware of the mixed message it would be sending to the rest of the University community by allowing the athletic department to soften its policies without cause.

That’s not to say that the current policy is set in stone. The UGA policy itself has been modified since 2006. In 2010, the policy was amended to remove an automatic suspension after a second drug or alcohol-related arrest. That didn’t mean that the second arrest carried no consequences; it just “was designed to differentiate between a student caught with a beer in a dorm refrigerator and a DUI-related offense,” as the administration explained. The current campus-wide policy was revised in October of 2011.

Should this be an area where the SEC steps in and normalizes policies across the league? I’m not so sure. It would certainly give schools like Georgia an out by removing any competitive disadvantage, though I don’t see why schools wouldn’t be able to put in place policies that go beyond a minimum standard. I also don’t know if it’s a good idea for schools to cede more authority to the conference instead of making – and living with – their own policies that reflect their own priorities and standards.

Post UGA’s new commercial

Wednesday August 24, 2011

The effort to remake Georgia’s 30-second commercial has received a lot of attention, and now we get to see the finished product.

Find the video here: https://www.facebook.com/UGAChapelBell (or see the video directly at this link).

It wouldn’t have been hard to top the old spot or most any boring commercial from that genre, but the team knocked it out of the park with this one. Great job, and kudos to R.E.M. for their participation. It never leaves you…

Post Welcome to the UGA Class of 2015

Monday August 15, 2011

This year’s crop of freshmen get things off to a great start. Hopefully the Dream Team looks as good in Sanford Stadium in a few weeks.

Post Football deck parking available

Tuesday July 12, 2011

If you tried to order football parking passes yesterday, you know all about the technical problems with the process. More on that in another post.

But season passes for parking decks (along with per-game RV parking) remain on sale, and three of the four decks are still available. The price for a parking deck pass is $120 – not bad at all for a guaranteed and sheltered parking spot. It’s certainly cheaper (over the course of a season) than any of the municipal or private lots and decks around downtown or campus, and you don’t have to join the mad dash first thing in the morning to claim any of the sparse open free parking around the periphery of the campus.

It’s sad that this is what it’s come to when so many of us remember just pulling up anywhere on campus, but those days are long gone.

Post McGarity reflects on Year 1 – what’s next?

Friday June 24, 2011

Greg McGarity took some time with the Red & Black to reflect on the “blur” that was his first year as Georgia’s athletics director. McGarity still has a lot he wants to get done, but he explained that his focus coming in was to emphasize a culture of “accountability, integrity and honesty and transparency in everything we did.”

It’s much too soon for many of McGarity’s actions to have much impact on the field or in the classroom. The academic performance of Georgia’ student-athletes has been strong for some time now, and he’ll do well to sustain or even slightly improve that area. The most recent APR numbers demonstrate that the emphasis on academic success remains as strong as ever. Georgia maintained its strong financial position, but it would have been hard to derail that train. McGarity does seem a little more willing to spend and invest some of the program’s surplus.

A new head coach for volleyball last December was McGarity’s first and only high-profile change directly affecting one of Georgia’s programs. There have been other decisions and changes which might not bear the stamp of the athletic director but with which he was probably involved. The overhaul of conditioning and nutrition for Georgia football is almost certainly one of those changes. Those changes weren’t just limited to football; the department will invest over $700,000 in “student-athlete welfare” programs and personnel.

All in all, it’s a relatively stable time for the athletic department, and that’s a welcome change from last summer. Of course there’s some tension around Mark Richt and the future of the football program, but that’s an issue that won’t come to a head for several months, and we hope it never has to come up at all. With the program financially and academically sound and McGarity’s foundation pretty well established, he can start looking at other areas of his agenda.

One of those areas might be facilities. Georgia announced its most recent facilites master plan in 2008. Some of those projects have already been completed. Football fans enjoyed Reed Alley last season – a major improvement for fans on the north side of the stadium. The transformation of Stegeman Coliseum last year was stunning, and Georgia got a big impact without having to build a new arena. Most recently the expansion of the Butts-Mehre facility allowed the football program some elbow room, provided a high-tech showpiece for the program, and provided some much-needed upgrades in the weight room and film room.

Those projects and the master plan all came on or were begun on Damon Evans’ watch. Throw in the impressive practice facility for basketball and gymnastics, and Georgia had quite a number of major capital facilities projects over the past couple of years which are now just wrapping up under McGarity. Before we pass the torch to McGarity and urge him to move on to the next big facilities project, all of the new buildings and improvements left the program with quite a bit of debt. That was part of the plan, but it’s also something you don’t shrug off even with Georgia’s strong financial standing.

Of course facilities projects don’t always involved big, hairy multi-million dollar construction work. There are always maintenence and small improvements, and the current budget includes a few of those. We saw chairbacks installed at Foley last year. There will be an upgraded video display at Sanford Stadium this year, and the Coliseum is also getting some A/V work. But there is a pause in major projects, and that’s probably for the best. There’s only so much debt the athletic department can take on, and there is no magical raising of that debt ceiling. The Athletic Association’s debt as of a year ago was around $95 million.

Other than those ongoing improvements and tweaks each year, we might have to wait a while to see where McGarity will take Georgia’s facilities. But as the debt begins to be paid off, we can turn our eye to other projects on that 2008 master plan. The expansion of Sanford Stadium jumps out. We’ve been over the pros and cons of expansion, but now doesn’t seem to be the right time. Unfortunately that’s mainly due to a football product that isn’t as in demand as it was three years ago, and the program plays its highest-profile games elsewhere. There just isn’t the motivation or pressure to expand now. The future of Foley Field is also an interesting topic. It’s been 20 years since the last major work on the baseball facility, and it’s not among the SEC’s best.

With Sanford expansion talk cooling down, the project always near the top of the football fan’s wish list is the indoor facility. One thing the Butts-Mehre expansion didn’t include was a full-blown indoor practice facility. Yes, there’s a small covered turf area where the team could feasibly walk through some drills in a pinch. No one is confusing it with a substitute practice field where the day’s work can be done. For fans it’s a no-brainer. [rival] has one, so we must. The debate about whether such a facility is a priority is a whole other topic, but it’s there on the master plan, so we’ll have to talk about it eventually.

One thing we do know is that Richt has been consistent about the building being more than a roof over a practice field:

Richt clearly wants to sell the project as being more than a place for the football team to practice a few times a year. He said there would be a 300-meter track around the field for indoor meets. The dining room would be used by regular students. Tailgating and other game-day activities would be held there, too.

The price tag for such a facility 5-10 years ago was around $30 million. We assume it might be higher now, but how much higher depends on how badly construction and related firms need the work in the current economy. Still, it’s a significant project at any time as the Coliseum facility was. A few recent projects at other schools show the spectrum of what can be done for a certain price point. Tech’s basic roof-over-a-field facility will cost only $6-7 million with at least half of that coming from private funds. Oklahoma State’s more ambitious facility will cost around $16 million and will be paid for with a private donation. Auburn likewise is working on a $16 million facility.

Would Georgia need the extras that would make its facility cost twice as much? The indoor track and related amenities are important features that most of these other football-only facilities won’t have, so yes – there would be a higher cost. But much of the reception space, offices, and other elements of the original design are included in the Butts-Mehre expansion. There just isn’t the need anymore for a grand football palace since we already more or less have one along E. Rutherford St.

Greg McGarity has had plenty to do just getting his team in place and running over the past year. There’s no question he’s willing to put the people and resources behind a worthwhile project, but it would be interesting to hear his thoughts on the future of some of these facilities projects as well as Georgia’s debt outlook. If we look to his experience at Florida as we have on several other topics, it’s worthwhile to note that the Gators are one of the few other major programs around the region that have, so far, avoided participating in the indoor practice facility arms race.

Post All Georgia programs maintain passing APR scores

Monday May 9, 2011

It’s good news from the academic progress front. The important news first as reported by the Banner-Herald: all of Georgia’s athletics programs once again meet and surpass the minimum APR score of 925. One of the many things done right by the last athletic director was to strengthen Georgia’s support structure for the academic success of its student-athletes, and Greg McGarity gets high marks in the first batch of APR scores on his watch.

With the big news out of the way, there’s some interesting information in the details. Georgia’s football program managed to improve on a score that was second-best for the SEC a year ago. Men’s hoops, at 946, was the lowest score of all sports but a) is still over 20 points clear of danger and b) improved over last year’s score. In all, 11 of 20 sports improved their APR score, 5 dropped, and 4 stayed level.

It’s also worth noting that Georgia’s six-year graduation rate for student-athletes was a solid 77%.

As Weiszer points out, baseball can be problematic for APR due in part to the transient nature of the sport. Without full scholarships to offer, players often move in and out of programs, and junior college signings are frequent. Aligning the academic progress of so many players who entered the program at different stages of their academic careers can be a tall job. The Diamond Dawgs dropped into the problem range six years ago with an APR score of 916, but they’ve improved every year since and stand now with a respectable 952.

Post North Campus tailgating rules modified; is Uga a service dawg?

Thursday March 24, 2011

According to the Red & Black, the University Cabinet announced three changes to North Campus tailgating restrictions for this coming season:

  • Set up time is now five hours before kickoff instead of four.
  • Tables are now allowed to be up to six feet long.
  • Tents are allowed again.

Keep in mind that the rest of last year’s restrictions will still apply. No generators, TVs, grills, and so on.

The SGA proposed several of the modifications back in January, and the University adopted them. There was concern that tailgating at Myers Quad would be restricted following the scene after the Georgia Tech game, but University SVP Tim Burgess said that no regulations would be put in place at Myers.

From the same Red & Black story, we also get this:

Finally, the Cabinet also approved a new service animal policy, which requires all dogs on campus to be registered as service animals.

Post Students could be penalized for unused football tickets

Wednesday February 16, 2011

Georgia’s Student Government Association has backed a plan that could “result in disqualification for post-season tickets and tickets for the following season” for students if their football tickets go unused. Several games during the disappointing 2010 season saw huge vacant gaps in the student section, and the goal of this proposal is to put those tickets in the hands of freshmen and others lower on the priority list who would use them.

The plan would allow students to transfer tickets directly to another student or contribute them back to a ticket bank by Thursday of a game week. Students who don’t use their tickets or don’t contribute them would receive a penalty point. Three such points would lead to disqualification for future tickets.

Post UGA eyeing tailgating at Myers Quad

Thursday January 27, 2011

Noon starts didn’t give Georgia fans much of a reason or opportunity to have elaborate tailgates this year, and the new tailgating restrictions didn’t get much of a test. But the season finale served up a night game and a chance for a day-long tailgate. Following the Tech game, I took this dimly-lit picture of the Myers Quad, and you can still get the point even with the poor quality. It was trashed.

I know we’ll get the same response we got about North Campus: it was students/visitors/Tech fans. I’m not denying that; we saw several Tech tailgates set up in the area. The bigger point is that this outcome isn’t going to stand any better on Myers Quad or anywhere else on campus than it did on North Campus.

So it’s no shock to learn that the University is thinking of extending restrictions to Myers Quad. The school’s Gameday Committee met for the first time since the season last week and, as they do every year, began evaluating Georgia’s game day policies. Last week we noted that the SGA recommended easing restrictions on North Campus. It’s way to early in the process to say what will or won’t be done for the 2011 season, but Matt Winston, assistant to President Adams, noted that Myers Quad was among the areas they are scrutinizing.

The responsibility ultimately falls on the tailgaters, but the University also can’t keep playing whack-a-mole every year to react to where the mess pops up next. Will they go down the road of extending the more restrictive North Campus regulations to larger areas of campus? Or are there things (patrol, enforcement) the University can do on Gameday to address the groups causing the most problems while leaving campus open to the responsible majority who just want to enjoy a fun football Saturday?

Post A hunkered-down engineer

Tuesday November 9, 2010

In a major victory for the University of Georgia, the state Board of Regents approved today three new engineering degree programs at UGA. Students will be able to enroll in civil, electrical and mechanical engineering programs in Athens as soon as 2012 and 2013.

The proposal had met with strong opposition from Georgia Tech officials and alumni who felt that increased investment at Georgia’s lone public engineering school was enough to meet the state’s future needs. The vote was a close 9-8 which reflected how much of a political battle the proposal had become. The governor and certain state legislators had become involved, and it remains to be seen whether opponents will try to find some sort of legislative roadblock when the legislature convenes in January.

But Georgia Tech is only part of the story. It’s also about Auburn, Clemson, Tennessee, and the other regional schools with engineering programs that attract engineering students from Georgia that for one reason or another don’t go to Tech. As Lee Shearer explains in the Banner-Herald this week, state schools are not producing enough engineers to meet the state’s needs. Even though Georgia Tech produces nearly 800 engineering graduates each year, “fewer than half Tech’s graduates remain in Georgia” following graduation. These programs at UGA (along with similar ones at Georgia Southern) will give Georgians quality in-state alternatives to going out-of-state with the goal of keeping more of them at home when they enter the labor force.

Of course there’s also a financial angle. As President Adams argued, “the new degrees will give UGA access to millions in federal grants and research money.” That’s not necessarily a zero-sum game with Tech; it’s likely a net increase of research money coming into the state. With a medical school and now an engineering program coming to Athens during this decade, the University of Georgia will be moving into a different class of public universities.

If none of that matters to you, just know that there are some fuming Yellow Jackets tonight, and count it as the first of several wins over Tech to come in the next month.

Post Unused student tickets spur McGarity into action

Wednesday September 29, 2010

The Red & Black has a story today about how nearly half of the student tickets allocated for the Arkansas game went unused. Only 10,000 out of 18,000 student tickets were used for the September 18 game.

It’s not a new development, and athletic department officials have been watching it for more than a year. Claude Felton explained, “We have data from fall last year and this year until this point. And the students that all have tickets are not all coming to the games.” New athletic director Greg McGarity nails how big of an issue this is. “We’re suffering as a program, as an institution,” McGarity said. “When we’re on TV and they show the stadium, there’s 5,000 or 6,000 empty seats — that’s embarrassing.” If you were at the Arkansas game, you know what McGarity is talking about.

Based on those observations that some student tickets go unused for every home game, Georgia will sell an additional 1,000 student tickets for the upcoming Tennessee game to underclassmen who received a split season ticket package that didn’t include the Tennessee game. The hope is to fill, or at least come closer to filling, the student sections.

It’s a short-term solution, and McGarity is already talking about revamping the student ticket process as soon as next season. His experience at Florida should help, but he also plans to study how other major programs distribute student tickets.

“The intent is to how can we provide a system that will allow enough students in to where we can manage it and know that Thursday at 5 o’clock that we have ‘x’ amount of seats left that we can either put on sale or reissue to students that didn’t qualify for tickets,” McGarity said. “How can we? That’s our challenge. So, we’re gonna benchmark other institutions to see how they do that.”

We all know the current state of the team, but the season wasn’t in the tank heading into the Arkansas game. It’s probably going to end up being the highest-profile home game of the year, but student turnout was abysmal and noticed. The students who were at the game were loud and involved as they almost always are. They helped the crowd that stayed for the entire game make a difference during Georgia’s comeback. They’re not the problem. Even with the team struggling this year, there are thousands of students who would love to go to the games, and I’m glad to see the athletic director making this issue a priority.

Post “Fairness” will keep 75% of the Redcoats home on Saturday

Friday September 10, 2010

I had heard during the summer that the full Redcoat Band wasn’t making the trip to Columbia. That seemed strange because 1) the Athletic Association isn’t hurting for cash and 2) the full band typically makes all trips that can reasonably be made without an overnight stay. That includes the Alabama schools, Tennessee, South Carolina/Clemson, and of course Tech.

Sure enough, the Red and Black reports that just a pep band will be supporting Georgia at South Carolina. Did Georgia suddenly come up short of cash? Did a greedy athletic department want to sell those seats to fans? Nope. It all has to do with other SEC schools and some contrived notion of fairness:

“The rest of the athletic associations in the SEC are hurting a little bit, whereas ours is sitting on a budget this year so we are all right…So to be fair to everyone, they cut one of our band trips because all the other band organizations cut their band trips by one.”

Are you kidding me? Because some other SEC programs have to cut back band trips, the school will voluntarily hold back its loudest group of supporters in a key SEC opener on the road. South Carolina will have enough of a homefield advantage without keeping 3/4 of the Redcoats home. Why have a successful program and a budget in the black if you’re not going to use that advantage? Georgia isn’t going to cut back its recruiting budget or its facilities plans because some other SEC school can’t keep up, so why do it here?

I know UGA has made kneecapping itself into an art form, but this is ridiculous.

Post Roundup of changes Georgia fans can expect in Athens

Thursday September 2, 2010

The biggest changes for many of us will be the new tailgating rules that were announced back in the spring. The Banner-Herald has a front-page story today as a reminder of the new rules. Many expect the rules to all but kill off tailgating on North Campus, but it will be a while before the impact is felt. With the first two home games kicking off before 12:30, tailgating will be subdued anyway. Any evaluation of the new rules made before the Tennessee game will be very premature.

For those tailgating elsewhere on campus, they’ll still be affected by several new rules:

  • No pull-behind items (trailers, cookers, etc.)
  • No golf carts or ATVs
  • No parking on sidewalks (expanded to include Carlton St.)
  • The ban on setting up tailgates (tents, tables, etc.) in parking spaces will be reemphasized, to include those areas controlled by the Athletic Association.

Fans with any questions about tailgating rules, parking, or traffic plans should visit the Gameday Gameplan site.

Construction will affect two permitted campus lots. Hull Street will be temporarily closed from Baxter Street to Florida Avenue, and the Baxter Lot can only be accessed through the East Hull lot. The Physical Plant lot is being repaired, but no spaces will be lost…you’ll just be in a work zone.

Once at the stadium, fans on the north side won’t be able to miss the new Reed Plaza. We’ve talked about the Reed Alley project many times here over the past couple of years, and now this facility eight years in the making is finally available for fans to enjoy. Access to the stadium from the Gate 2 area around the curve of the north stands will be improved.

Regrettable vendor choices aside, the new Reed Plaza and its 30,000 square feet should be at least as big a shot in the arm to the north side of the stadium as the reconstructed Gate 6 project was a few years ago. It’s just more of everything – more space, more restrooms, more concessions options, and did I mention more space? Though the project will be dedicated on Friday, sources in Athens are telling us that some finishing touches might not be in place in time for the opener. Regardless, the plaza will be open and usable on game day.

Once inside the stadium, fans will have access to a new text message system to deal with everything from unruly fans to medical emergencies. If you need help inside the stadium, text DAWGS, the issue, and your location to 69050. There was an interesting post on the DawgVent a few weeks back about enhanced cell coverage inside the stadium from many of the major providers…I’ll believe it when I can send a text out.